§ MR. SUMMERBELL (Sunderland)
To ask the Postmaster-General if he is yet in a position to report the result of his investigations as to the sub-office postman stationed at Thornley and the rural postman working between Sunderland and Boldon.
(Answered by Mr. Sydney Buxton.) (1) The duty of the postman at Thornley involves an attendance from 6.40 a.m. to 2 p.m., with intervals off duty amounting to two and a quarter hours, and another attendance from 7 p.m. to 8.45 p.m. His total actual attendance is, therefore, only six hours fifty minutes. Although the duty is not excessive, I find the man's attendance can, without detriment to the service, be slightly reduced by 744 extending one of his intervals off duty in the middle of the day, and I have given instructions accordingly. His attendance will thus be reduced to six hours twenty-five minutes. The postman, to suit his own convenience, is permitted to return to his home between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and to use his official cycle for the purpose, the journey occupying about half an hour in each direction. The man employed on the duty was temporarily appointed, at his own request, in February last at wages of 16s. a week. His appointment has now been made permanent, and he will receive wages commencing at 17s. a week. The additional allowance of 1s. a week, referred to by the hon. Member, was for cleaning the bicycle. It will be continued. (2) The official attendance of the Sunderland to Cleadon (near Boldon) rural postman is from 6 a.m. to 10.15 a.m., from 2 p m. to 3.45 p.m., and from 4.30 p.m. to 5.45 p.m., a total of seven and a quarter hours, of which about six hours ten minutes are occupied in actual travelling on a journey of twenty-three and a quarter miles, twelve driven and eleven and a quarter performed on foot. The postman has intervals off duty at Cleadon amounting to four and a half hours. I have given instructions for shelter to be provided for him at the expense of the Department. A revision of this post is under consideration with a view to the use of a cycle instead of a horse and cart. The change, if adopted, may involve the transfer of the present postman to another duty. The allowance made to the postman for horsekeep is intended to cover the cost of stabling at Cleadon as well as at Sunderland; but, if it is decided to maintain the mounted post, I will consider whether the allowance is adequate.